Sha Cage performs w/ Jayanthi Kyle and the Crybabies

Jayanthi Kyle and the Crybabies consists of Robin Kyle, Jayanthi Kyle, Jamez Smith and Rachel Kurtz.  Together they will produce a series of outdoor concert style performances in neighborhood parks featuring some of the Twin Cities finest artists. The band will lay a musical foundation with cultural and children’s songs  accented by extravagant performances layered throughout including puppetry, spoken word, juggling, hip hop dance, storytelling, hula hoopers, commedia dell’arte and more.

Although the ensemble is relatively new to producing, they have a long performance history in the Twin Cities and are passionate about presenting accessible art and performances for families.

“I am developing a children’s show because as a mom I have seen my two sons respond deeply to tactile and sensory experiences including music and theatrical elements. I want to provide a quality context to families where they can participate and also give resources to parent’s for enjoying and nurturing their kids. I believe we cannot appreciate enough what children have to teach us and I think it’s our duty to foster an environment for this exchange and encourage them to express themselves and their gifts.  Children know so much inherently and I want to support them in areas like manners, respect, sharing, health, and joy.”   –  Jayanthi Kyle.

Each all ages performance will also feature interactive activities such as hands on puppets, face painting, bocce ball and more.

Saturday, July 30 • 10:30am
Jackson Square Park
2212 Jackson St. NE Mpls, MN 55418

Saturday August 13• 2:00pm
North Commons Park
1801 James Ave. N Minneapolis, MN 55411

Saturday August 20 • 10:30am
Jackson Square Park
2212 Jackson St. NE Mpls, MN 55418

All shows free.

‘Agnes Under the Big Top’

‘The Huddled Masses’
Immigrants cope with their
unrealized American dreams
By Ed Huyck, City Pages

Dying of cancer and lost in a country far from home, Agnes wants nothing more than to take flight like a bird and escape—to go home to Africa, to see her son grow up, to find a story with a happy ending. Reality, however, isn’t going to let that happen.

Staged with an inventive flair and well-acted by a veteran-packed cast, Agnes Under the Big Top presents a quick ride through the immigrant experience via the connected lives of four American newcomers. Creator Aditi Brennan Kapil crafts an imaginative space for the actors to play in, but her script doesn’t fly as high as the rest of the elements.

Agnes (Sha Cage) hails from Liberia and came to make life better for her family back in Africa. That gets derailed right at the top of the show, as she discovers she is suffering from terminal cancer. Roza (Virginia Burke) and Shipkov (Nathaniel Fuller) are former Bulgarian circus performers who won the green-card lottery but now no longer even talk to each other. Meanwhile, Happy (Ankit Dogra) has left India to make his fortune in America, though he seems to be having some troubles with his karma.

Other characters connect like the twisting lines of the trains that crisscross through the nameless city. One is Ella (Linda Kelsey), a bedridden woman who Agnes and Roza care for, while another is the Busker (Nick Demeris), who not only works in the stations the others inhabit but takes on the roles of friends from the old countries, which show us the happier times for each of the main characters before their move to the promised land.

That their warm expectations meet the cold reality of life in America is no surprise, but how they cope becomes the real drive of the show. Some retreat: Roza rarely speaks, except to the birds. Others, like Happy, pretend that everything is just as they had planned. Still, in a play packed with metaphor and stories, I needed to be taken further from the familiar, where the big-top dreams of the title can play themselves out for the audience.

Carrying the day are the performers, who fully sell themselves in each role. Cage is central to the play, and she turns in another terrific performance as the lost Agnes searching for whatever meaning she can find in her suddenly truncated life. She rarely rages outwardly; instead, her silence toward her employer or the tall tales she spins for her son say far more than outward anger. Fuller gives Shipkov a thick layer of cynical crust that, when peeled away, shows us another layer of crust, but one that has a bit more warmth.

The roles for Burke and Kelsey offer different challenges. Burke spends most of her time silent or speaking Bulgarian, but her performance tells us volumes about her lost and sad character. Kelsey spends the entire 90-minute play bedridden as Ella, with only her voice to carry the character. Like Shipkov, Ella’s hostility hides a lot of pain, and Kelsey nails all of it, creating sympathy for a character who is just as lost as the immigrants.

Rounding out the company are two local newcomers. In a cast of characters hiding their true selves, Happy has pushed his reality the deepest, retaining his cheerful optimism from his life in India to the United States. It isn’t until deep into the play that his troubles come into focus. At that point, Dogra reaches far into the superficial character we’ve seen up to this point and gives Happy the extra dimensions he needs. Demeris by himself rounds out the cast, as he plays the rest of the world, from the silent subway busker in America to key characters in each of the homelands, from a silent Bulgarian clown to an overactive Indian friend to a laid-back listener gently playing a beat on a plastic gas can while Agnes shares her great dreams.

All of this is unified by a clever circus-like staging and a set (by Andrea Heilman) that connects the various worlds our characters inhabit by way of a train car and track. All of the elements are there in Agnes Under the Big Top—it just needs a little push for it to take full flight.

Originally posted on City Pages, 23 February 2001.

Sha Cage stars in ‘Agnes Under the Big Top’

Sha Cage starring in ‘Agnes Under the Big Top, a tall tale’
A National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere
written & directed by Aditi Brennan Kapil
featuring Virginia Burke, Nick Demeris, Ankit Dogra,
Nathaniel Fuller and Linda Kelsey

Mixed Blood Theatre
February 18 – March 6, 2011
Wednesdays – Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 3:00 p.m.

You will want to see this funny and powerful new work! It’s the story of immigrants in America today, and how their lives intersect under the figurative Big Top. A city subway station is the central point for all the action. A Liberian home care worker, an itinerant busker, a Bulgarian ringmaster and his wife, along with an Indian call center escapee, discover and redefine themselves through the telling of this magical fable. For more information, you can link to Mixed Blood Theatre.

e.g. bailey + Sha Cage produce Liberian radio documentary

New Beginnings: The Story of  Liberians in Minnesota

For some time now, Minnesota has been a refuge for immigrant communities displaced from their homes due to a variety of circumstances. One of these communities is the Liberian community, which grew rapidly in the aftermath of a series of civil wars that ravished their country. However the story of Liberians in Minnesota does not begin with these civil wars but stretches back more than 50 years.

In this radio documentary, we look at this history, along with the growth and development of the community. In a series of conversations with a wide-range of Liberians in Minnesota including Wynfred Russell, Abdullai Kiatamba, Piso Tarr, Yeamah Brewer, Mameneh George, Charles Dennis and others, in addition to other prominent figures in the community including State Representative Keith Ellison, professor of history Peter Rachleff and theatre director Wendy Knox, this programs provides an overview of where the Liberian community in Minnesota stands today, the contributions it has made to the state and what the future holds.

The documentary is produced by Liberian-American artist e.g. bailey, and his partner Sha Cage. The three-part documentary will air on KFAI Fresh Air Radio (90.3fm Minneapolis/106.7fm St. Paul) on February 16th, 21st and 23rd at 7:30pm. It can also be streamed online at wwww.kfai.org.

Ruts Revival

RUTS REVIVAL

featuring GUANTE + BIG CATS!, SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE, SHA CAGE, TRUTHMAZE, E.G. BAILEY, CHANTZ EROLIN, QUILOMBOLAS + others

with special guests I SELF DEVINE (Rhymesayers), ANALYRICAL (Background Noise Crew), SKETCH TC, DJ STAGE ONE, 2013 (featuring members of Junkyard Empire) + others

The Tru Ruts crew has been putting in work, both on stage and behind the scenes, for a very long time. A record label, a theater production company, a film studio and a Twin Cities cultural institution, Tru Ruts is dedicated to supporting talented, forward-thinking artists, putting on events that go beyond the same ‘ol, same ‘ol, and nurturing the next generation of young writers and performers. Join us in celebrating some big steps made over this past year: national distribution, slam championships, high-profile performances, critically-acclaimed album releases, successful youth programs and much more. And THANKS for all the support!

May 1st • Fine Line Music Cafe
318 North 1st Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55401
www.finelinemusic.com

8:00pm doors • $5 (21+) • $8 (18+)

Freestyle Theatre presents Experiments in Hip Hop Theatre

EXPERIMENTS IN HIP HOP THEATER
+ ANNUAL URBAN GRIOTS Spoken Word GATHERING
WED. APRIL 21st, 2010

Tru Ruts/Free Style Theater is excited to showcase an evening of 10 Minute Hip Hop & Spoken Word theater spotlights.  This effort is a precursor to a larger festival the company is organizing in Fall 2010 under the curation of  E.G. Bailey and Sha Cage. Tru Ruts is known locally, and nationally, as a cross genre producer whose mission is to bring innovative artistic endeavors to fruition that honor and celebrate culture and tradition.  Bailey and Cage move effortless as spoken word performers, actors, directors, community organizers and educators. The two had been in conversation with the national Hip Hop Theater Festival (NY) and the  Walker Art Center about the viability of a festival of this nature and have since moved to nurture Twin Cities based works and artists. Participating artists range from newcomers to heavy hitters including: Hip Hip lead artist of the BLEND, Toussaint Morrison;  Slam Champion, Guante; Writer and Director, Anton Jones; Playwright and Poet, Ed Bok Lee; and selections by Cage and E.G. Bailey featuring Amiri Baraka’s work along with Spoken Word luminary J. Otis Powell!, dancer Aneka McMullen, musicians Kevin Washington, Chris Cox (Junkyard Empire/2013), and Josh Granowski.  The community is invited to witness this provocative (experimental) evening spotlighting selections from each artist followed by a short dialogue about this developing art form.

Tickets can be purchased at www.bedlamtheatre.org. The Theater show is at 7:30pm and is followed by the big annual URBAN GRIOTS gathering bringing the spoken word community together in music, dance, and community at 9pm. Tickets for both shows are $15 or $3 for Urban Griots. Music by DJ Steely (Kinda Cloudy). For more information call Bedlam at 612-341-1038.

“This evening will be a great snapshot that allows the larger Twin Cities community to see what an incredibly diverse urban theater community is burgeoning right here under our heels. In recognition of the absence of artistic access for developing actors and directors involved…we hope to help nurture this ‘locally grown’ voice and talent for the next few years and ultimately produce a larger Midwest festival that brings artists together to cross pollinate. There are already so many talented artists on the precipice of the form. We are excited to have Bedlam on board as a Partner.” e.g. bailey & Sha Cage

Spoken-word work gets right to the point

CD review: Spoken-word work
gets right to the point

By John Ziegler, Duluth News Tribune

He can come on like a freight train. Words are his medium. He will make you laugh. He will make you cry. He will make you think.

His name is E.G. Bailey and his brand-new release “American Afrikan” combines spoken word, poetry and music to explore what it is to be an Afrikan in America today. It doesn’t just skim along the surface in that exploration, it heaves from below like a bulldozer churning up slabs of concrete, tree roots and old asphalt in its quest — Bailey leading the narrative charge.

Using language like John Coltrane used the tenor or soprano saxophone, Bailey — together with friends such as Aimee Bryant, Katrah Quey, Sha Cage, Hipgrosis, D.J.Limbs, plus African poets Ibe Kaba and Sankaradjeki; Dubai jazz ensemble Abstract Collision, and Mankwe Mdosi, the singer from Atmosphere — uses bits of pre-recorded sound, field recordings (including Liberian work songs from the Mano Tribe) and jazz. He rails, he whispers, he implores, he exhorts and subtly weaves his spell.

“K Street Blues: The Bailout Plan” sounds like it could have been Sonny Rollins captured on the Williamsburg Bridge in 1952 talking to the skyline with his horn.

“America” is Bailey (with Abstract Collision giving an eerie, angular backdrop) holding a mirror up to our own country with all its actions and how they have morphed over time. “America with your varicose veins and Catholic guilt, I fear you and I love you … America, it’s getting harder to defend you.”

Aimee Bryant’s stirring multi-tracked version of “Motherless Child” is a riveting take on this black spiritual.

“Afrikan is the New American” has an almost Prince-like groove smothered in chicken grease.

Bailey is the real deal. He has created spoken word dynamics in film, theater and recordings during his travels through this country as well as England, South Africa, France and Serbia. He is the founder of the MN Spoken Word Association, Tru Ruts Endeavors and the Spoken Word and Hip Hop Institute at the University of Minnesota. He’s been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in the New York Modern Museum of Art.

“American Afrikan” is not just a journey but an adventure that, during February’s Black History Month, explores identity, history, culture and what it means to be black in America today.

The CD release of this wonderful piece of art takes place Saturday evening at the Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis and should not be missed.

E.G. Bailey / “American Afrikan”
Genre: Spoken word/Poetry/Jazz/Hip Hop/Electronica
Label: Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records
Web site: www.egbailey.com, myspace.com/egbailey
Produced by: E.G. Bailey and Ben Durant

Upcoming show: Saturday at 9:30 p.m., the CD release party at the Bedlam Theatre, Minneapolis. Cost $5. Ages 18 and older. Includes special guests Guante, Sha Cage, Mankwe Ndosi, Ibe Kaba and more.

John Ziegler has worked in the music industry for the past 35 years as a radio host, interviewer, record producer and professional musician.

E.G. Bailey featured in Star Tribune

Bailey comes home
By Chris Riemenschneider
Star Tribune

Spoken-word artist and Tru Ruts label proprietor E.G. Bailey might have what you’re looking for in the form of his first full-length CD, “American Afrikan”.

Looking to celebrate Black History Month to the tune of something besides “We Shall Overcome?” Spoken-word artist and Tru Ruts label proprietor E.G. Bailey might have what you’re looking for in the form of his first full-length CD, “American Afrikan,” a thought-provoking collection that also provokes some cool grooves out of Bailey’s flowing poetry.

Inspired by Bailey’s trips to Africa, the disc laces field recordings and traditional African verses with modern digital beats and live drums. In “Liberia,” for instance, he expounds on a “nation waiting to be reborn” over the rhythmic clanging of hammers from field workers. In the title track, he trades verses with African poets over a steady treadmill-like beat and soulful backup vocals by Atmosphere touring member Mankwe Ndosi. Themes of identity, reclamation and rebirth permeate the album and should make for an equally evocative stage show. The release party is Saturday at the West Bank’s Bedlam Theatre with guests Guante, Sha Cage and more (9:30 p.m., $5).

Originally posted on Star Tribune on 18 February 2010.

E.G. Bailey featured on TC Metromix

‘American Afrikan’ E.G. Bailey CD Release

‘American Afrikan’ is not just a CD release party, but also a musical celebration of Black History that brings together some of the leading African and African American performers in the Twin Cities. Spoken Word innovator E.G. Bailey’s CD is a musical exploration of language and blows out of the water traditional concepts of old school ‘spoken word’ featuring M.anifest, Truthmaze, Members of Junkyard Empire, Sha Cage, Guante, Mankwe Ndosi, J. Otis Powell!, Chantz, See More Perspective, Dameun Strange, Andy Shafer, and more.

When: February 20 : 10 p.m.
Price: $5
Event Phone Number: 612-341-1038
www.bedlamtheatre.org

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents E.G. Bailey’s AMERICAN AFRIKAN

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents AMERICAN AFRIKAN
e.g. bailey’s debut mixes poetry, jazz, electronica, hip hop + more.

“He makes language live!” – Amiri Baraka

“There is so much history, culture, and experience packed into American Afrikan that to summarize would be to attempt to summarize all of African American experience.” – Jon Behm (Reviler)

“A powerful testament of bailey’s skill of mobilizing poetry for contemplation, remembrance, and a subtle, but no less insistent, call to action.” –Justin Schell

“No matter how long it takes for bailey to drop ‘da proverbial bomb’, it will have been well worth the wait.” – Dwight Hobbes

With co-signs from Umar Bin Hassan of the Last Poets and the legendary Amiri Baraka, Twin Cities spoken word artist, poet, musician, organizer and educator, e.g. bailey, presents his first full-length album, AMERICAN AFRIKAN, a spoken word concept album that begins in Africa, crosses the Middle Passage, explores America and ends up somewhere that defies easy definition.

Part musical theater piece, part audio chapbook and part performance art experiment, AMERICAN AFRIKAN mixes the beat-influenced poetry of bailey with music that blends hip hop, funk, jazz, electronica and more, creating a sound that is at once progressive and challenging yet smooth and listenable.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that an hour-long spoken word album wouldn’t be much fun to listen to; many aren’t. But as Umar Bin Hassan says in the album’s liner notes, “The sounds on this album are just as important as the words.” Through bailey’s voice, through the Igbo nuns on ‘Oracles of Equiano’, through Aimee Bryant’s rendition of ‘Motherless Child’ and through the album’s diverse sonic palette, AMERICAN AFRIKAN succeeds not just as a piece of literature or poetry, but as a cohesive musical journey.

Producer Katrah Quey, perhaps best known for his work with TC wordsmith M.anifest (who shows up to drop a verse on the ‘American Afrikan’ remix), handles a majority of that music, though Hipgnosis and DJ Limbs shine on a couple of early tracks. The beats compliment the words; sometimes fun and funky, sometimes dark and meditative––but always engaging. The album also features appearances by Twin Cities-based African poets, Ibé Kaba and Sankaradjeki; Mankwe Ndosi, singer for Atmosphere; Dubai jazz ensemble Abstrakt Collision; Midwest emcee Idris Goodwin and others.

Though the music might be what draws people into this album, it’s bailey himself that will keep them there. Crafting a masterful narrative from the first track to the last, he explores identity, history, culture and all the places they intertwine in a way that is always meaningful but never preachy; always heart-felt but never melodramatic. As he says himself: “The project attempts to explore what it means to be an Afrikan today, an Afrikan in America, an American Afrikan. What is this journey historically, metaphorically, poetically? However, you can’t answer that question unless you explore what it means to be American, in post-9/11 America. And because America affects and infects us all, it is also about all of us.”

Deemed a true innovator of the spoken word art form, his charismatic yet rhythmic style dances words with sound in and out of synch with verbal play. One of the most prolific voices and talents in the Twin Cities, Bailey’s work has taken him on travels through the U.S., England, South Africa, France, Serbia and more. He has created spoken word work in film, theater, music and radio. Born in Saclepea, Liberia, and now based in the U.S., he is a founder of several foundational entitles in the local and national community including: MN Spoken Word Association, Tru Ruts Endeavors, the Urban Griots Spoken Word Awards, The Spoken Word and Hip Hop Institute at the University of MN. He has appeared in spoken word commercials including ‘Art Connects’, which premiered during the 2008 B.E.T. Hip Hop Awards, and was featured on the MTV, VH1, MTV Europe, CBS, NBC and other networks, in addition to being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame archived at the Modern Museum of Arts in New York. As he moves effortless between radio, film, theater, and producing, his live performances are always a treat.

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents: AMERICAN AFRIKAN
The debut album from spoken word artist E.G. BAILEY
CD RELEASE PARTY: SAT FEB 20TH
@ THE BEDLAM THEATRE  (1501 6th St S., Minneapolis, MN 55454)
Hosted by J. Otis Powell!. Featuring Guante, Mankwe Ndosi, Truthmaze, Sha Cage, See More Perspective, Chantz Erolin, Aimee Bryant, Ibé Kaba, Sankaradjeki, Dameun Strange, members of Junkyard Empire (Chris Cox + Bryan Berry), Kahlil Brewington, DJ Stage One + more.
10pm  18+  $5 advance